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The Differences Between Sourcing and Recruiting

by | Dec 22, 2017 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Sourcing and recruiting are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the recruiting field. The two terms are related, but they aren’t the same thing. However, the worlds of sourcing and recruiting can blend into one role.

Are you a sourcer, a recruiter, or both?

Sourcing vs. recruiting

Let’s take a look at the difference between sourcing and recruiting.


Sourcing often happens early in the overall recruiting process. Sourcers search for passive candidates. They might also work with referrals. The sourcer’s job is to create interest in an open position and convince people to apply.

Sourcers use social media recruiting, research competitors’ employees, and do Google resume searches. They do not deal with applications received through a job board or other website.

Sourcing is often considered an important part of the recruiting process. Sourcing allows you to reach a larger pool of candidates than recruiting by itself.

When sourcers lock down candidates, they hand the candidates off to the recruiter who continues the process of filling the job order.


Recruiters take over where the sourcing role ends. Recruiters are a go-between for candidates and clients to make sure everyone is on the same page. Ultimately, recruiters make sure clients are satisfied.

Recruiters are also in charge of administrative tasks. They post openings on job boards, review applications, coordinate schedules, and meet any other client needs.

The intersection of recruiting and sourcing

Sometimes, recruiting and sourcing run together. One person might fulfill both roles. A recruiter might search for passive candidates and gather active candidates from a job board posting. The recruiter will then look at all those candidates and choose the best ones to send to the client. The recruiter will communicate between the client and the candidates.

At a small recruiting firm, a recruiter will likely do both sourcing and recruiting. They will not pass some tasks off to another worker. Sourcing and recruiting are bundled into one job. When this is the case, the person doing the sourcing and recruiting is often simply called a recruiter.

At a large recruiting firm, recruiters might handle both recruiting and sourcing. Or, there might be divisions with different people to manage each task. The sourcers will collect passive candidates and convince them to pursue an open position. They will send candidates to the recruiting department, which will finish the recruiting process.

At these larger recruiting firms, it is important to differentiate between sourcing vs. recruiting. The two departments will do different tasks and the workers will have different titles.

Successfully combining sourcing and recruiting

No matter if you work in a small or large recruiting firm, recruiting software can help manage the sourcing and recruiting processes.

At a small firm, you can enter information about active and passive candidates. You can even parse resumes for easy entry. Categorize and add labels to the candidates so you can quickly sort them and see what tasks you need to do.

You can add reminders in the software. These reminders can help you remember when to reach out to candidates. You can even set up email marketing to remain in front of candidates.

At a large firm, you can set up multiple users for the recruiting software. Each sourcer and recruiter can have their own account. Sourcers can add candidates to the software, along with any notes they have on the candidates. Recruiters can see what the sourcers added, making it easy to pick up where the sourcer left off.

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